The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The joys of traveling from Chicago in January

I have enough travel experience to know that a winter storm doesn't totally shut down O'Hare. I mean, isn't it pretty?

It does, however, cause some disruptions:

But knowing that my flight has a 2+ hour delay means I can take a leisurely bus trip for $3.25 (including transfer), which is way better than a $60 Lyft that would take almost as long. The bus got up to 20 km/h at one point! Look at us zoom through Lincoln Square:

And along the route, a little bit of good news from the airline!

So only two hours after leaving home, I finally got through security and sat down in the lounge with a view sure to warm the heart of any frequent air traveler:

I also have to hand it to the ground crews. They have a conga line of plows pushing the snow into the snow-melter-thingy right below where I'm sitting.

American reports that my plane has left Dallas, so I've only got about 90 minutes to chill, get more coffee, and watch a cool dozen snowplows in a row clearing runway 10C so planes can keep landing. And NWS says this crap will end before noon. I might actually get to Seattle before dinner!

Updates as events warrant.

Gross weather day

Looking out my 30th-floor office window this afternoon doesn't cheer me. It's gray and snowy, but too warm for accumulation, so it just felt like rain when I sprinted across the street to get my burrito bowl for lunch.

I do have a boring deployment coming up in about an hour, requiring only that I show the business what we've built and then click "Run pipeline" twice. As a reward for getting ahead on development, I have time to read some of these absolutely horrifying news stories:

Finally, Cranky Flier examines American Airlines' European operations and singles out its heavy dependence on Heathrow as a key reason why its fares trans-Atlantic are lower than other US carriers. Since I am using one of those really low fares to visit Germany next month, I'm OK with American keeping their fares low.

Winter may finally arrive

Chicago had its 4th-warmest December in history last month, with temperatures averaging about 4°C above normal. The trend has continued this month as well. That won't completely end tonight, though we may see some snow:

The first “significant” winter storm to impact the Chicago region is scheduled to start Monday night, with meteorologists predicting two to five inches of snow accumulation and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour across portions of central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.

A winter weather advisory goes into effect at 8 p.m. until noon Tuesday in the Chicago metro area as well as parts of DuPage, Will and Lake counties.

The storm will likely be split into two rounds, according to the NWS. The first will arrive this evening starting around 8 p.m., with much of the snow accumulating in a brief window from 1 to 5 a.m., just before the early morning commute.

Lovely. But a few centimeters of snow won't bother either Cassie or me tomorrow morning, especially if the temperature stays freezing, as forecast.

Next weekend, though, looks like it might feel more like Real Chicago Winter, with temperatures dropping to -13°C overnight Saturday. I, however, will be in the Pacific Northwest, where...dammit. Temperatures will drop to -6°C overnight Saturday. (I thought Seattle was supposed to be warmer than Chicago?)


I have to remember that the normal temperature curve for Chicago bottoms out from January 17th to 23rd. So it will get colder this winter. I'll take the win for December and just remind myself that our winters build character.

Overnight snowfall

We got about 50 mm of snow overnight, even though the temperature barely got below freezing at O'Hare and never got below freezing at IDTWHQ. I expect most of it will melt today, but this morning it looked pretty:

On the other hand, most of the models predict a huge winter storm next weekend. If I get supremely lucky, the worst of it will hit while I'm away. If my luck runs as usual, I'll spend a lot more time at O'Hare than I'd prefer.

At least sunrises have finally started to get earlier

Mid-week mid-day

Though my "to-be-read" bookshelf has over 100 volumes on it, at least two of which I've meant to read since the 1980s, the first book I started in 2024 turned out to be Cory Doctorow's The Lost Cause, which I bought because of the author's post on John Scalzi's blog back in November.

That is not what I'm reading today at lunch, though. No, I'm reading a selection of things the mainstream media published in the last day:

Finally, for $1.7 million you can live inside a literal brick oven. The fifth-floor penthouse in the former Uneeda Biscuit building on Chicago's Near West Side includes several rooms with brick ceilings that were, decades ago, the ovens that cooked the biscuits. Cool. (Or, you know, hot.)

Any news? No, not one single new

Wouldn't that be nice? Alas, people keep making them:

Speaking of excoriation, David Mamet has a new memoir about his 40 years in the LA film industry, Everywhere an Oink Oink. (Expect to find that on next year's media roundup.) And I still have to read Linda Obst's Hello, He Lied, which I keep forgetting to liberate from my dad's bookshelf.

Not the last day of 2023 I was promised

"Scattered flurries," they said. "Less than 10 mm accumulation," they said.

The forecast has changed a bit since yesterday:

Today: Snow and freezing drizzle likely, becoming all snow after 10am. Cloudy, with a high near 1. West northwest wind 15 to 20 km/h increasing to 20 to 25 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one centimeter possible.
Tonight: Snow likely, possibly mixed with rain, becoming all snow after midnight. Cloudy, with a steady temperature around 1. North wind 25 to 30 km/h decreasing to 20 to 25 km/h after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 45 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 centimeters possible.

At least it's not that cold. And Cassie seems to enjoy it.

Last work day of the year

Due to an odd combination of holidays, a use-it-or-lose-it floating holiday, and travel, I'm just about done with my first of four short work-weeks in a row. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Of course, since I would like to finish the coding problem I've been working on before I leave today, I'll have to read some of these later:

  • Josh Marshall thinks it's hilarious and pathetic that Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), realizing she can't win against a Democrat in her own district, said she'll run in the next district over.
  • Jennifer Rubin points out that while you can blame anyone you want for what's wrong with US politics today, ultimately it's the voters.
  • Authors Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith argue for the repeal of the Insurrection Act, not just because of the XPOTUS.
  • Climate scientist Brian Brettschneider has charted the perfect year-long road-trip across the US where it's always (normally) 21°C.
  • A truck driver found himself trapped in an Indiana creek for six days until some fishermen discovered him. (He's OK.)

Finally, police and firefighters in Lancashire, England, are glancing about sheepishly this evening after reports of a fire at Blackpool Tower turned out to construction netting. They still managed to arrest one person for "breach of the peace," though for what The Guardian didn't report.

Second-mildest Christmas ever

As I said yesterday, Christmas this year had much better weather than last year, despite the rain. And this morning, it's official: we had the second-warmest December 25th since records began, with a high at O'Hare of 15°C. The warmest, in 1982, hit 17°C.

It's cooled off just a bit today but we don't expect any rain. I managed to get Cassie out for an hour and eight minutes yesterday. Today I actually have to work, but she'll get a full hour at least.